Two photographers who have worked in Iraq for more than a year say their experiences have been dangerous but worthwhile, both to them and to the public.
“As photojournalists, we try to give a voice to people who don’t have one, and we go to places where the public can’t,” said Stefan Zaklin, a graduate student in photojournalism at MU.
Zaklin, along with his wife, Stephanie Kuykendal, showed photographs and talked about living in wartime Iraq on Tuesday in Lee Hills Hall at MU.
Kuykendal, a photojournalism graduate of MU, was injured recently by a roadside bomb near Fallujah while embedded with U.S. Marines. She described how she was knocked unconscious — her lower teeth forced into the roof of her mouth — and drenched in gasoline. Zaklin was by her side as she was treated in a hospital.
“I woke up and Stefan was right by me, so I was very lucky,” Kuykendal said.
Kuykendal and Zaklin’s presentation included images of the conflict in Fallujah, the Mehdi Army of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and more personal portraits of ordinary people in Iraq.
Zaklin showed portraits of Iraqi army deserters whose ears had been partly cut off during Saddam Hussein’s regime.
Kuykendal’s photography included portraits of two Iraqi women, one whom lived on the street and the other a police officer.
“I felt that there were some holes in the coverage that I could fill,” Kuykendal said. “I was particularly interested in women and women’s issues.”
In spite of the risks of working in the middle of conflict, Zaklin and Kuykendal said they expect to return to Iraq. They both view the role of photojournalists in war zones as important.
“I kind of see photographers as part of a continuum,” Zaklin said. “It’s not only important to see what is happening, but how and why it is happening.”